Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Mardi Gras Street Dancing Competition in San Pablo City, Laguna

* San Pableños in dancing craze

Finally, I was able to watch again the annual Mardi Gras (pronounced as mar-di-gra or ma-di-gra) here in San Pablo City, Laguna. This street dancing competition is part of the yearly Coconut Festival in the city held usually a week before the Feast of Saint Paul the First Hermit on January 15. As I recall, the last time I saw this event was when I was in high school.

The foreboding afternoon was not a deterrent; I went to the city plaza to witness the dances. All the participants started along Mabini Street in the general area of San Pablo Central School. There seemed to be a station (or was it stations?) where every participating group will have to show their prepared dance numbers. The music was not a problem since different mobiles are set up along the city plaza, all synchronized to play the same music for the contestants.

 * the dance presentation of the students from
the Dalubhasaan ng Lunsod ng San Pablo or DLSP

* all smiles: perhaps this is the most compelling
captured scene I have of the 2013 Mardi Gras

One little snag I observed during the competition was the frequent interruptions to the music as there seemed to be interview portions somewhere in the main stage involving politicians and candidates for the upcoming election. But who am I to judge? The whole festival itself is political in nature anyway. It’s just it was awkward to hear the groans of the participants waiting under the heat and the audience obviously suppressing the creeping boredom.

 * float of the Scout Royal Brotherhood or SRB

 * float of Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity

 * float of the Triskelion Alumni Organization

But generally the mood was festive, with different groups busy with picture taking while some groups opted to start dancing for the pleasure of those around them.

 * now we have a fine young lady here

As in the previous years, the event was not confined to dance numbers only. There were floats prepared by different schools, groups, and local establishments. Once again, the streets of the city proper were literally decorated with coconut-derived designs, from its leaves down to its trunk areas.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Black Nazarene Translacion 2013

* zooming in the Black Nazarene

2013 comes in with this new post. But first, a short background on what happened to my plan to put up all the tours here in Back Trails before 2012 ends: I was sick. It started as a cold then worsened as the year ended. Probably due to the draft from our window which was left open for two nights. Thus, a bunch of untouched photos for uploading and virtually no blog drafts. But nevertheless I am in an optimistic stance this year that it will be as fulfilling as the previous one as far as tours are concerned.

And so before making up with my late posts, let me share my first visit this year: the preparations for the annual Translacion of the Image of the Black Nazarene or Poong Nazareno which is housed in the Quiapo Church. It was only in recent years that this yearly procession was made to commence in the Quirino Grandstand. It was only a short walk from work so I thought it good to pay a visit and see the place since I cannot possibly join the actual procession the following day. 

* people prepping for the annual Translacion

* playing marching bands; the one at the top is the Manila City Band

It was not called a feast for nothing. After crossing the road from the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park, people are already lined up for the pahalik where they were able to touch a portion of the revered image. The line was simply astounding, to think that the ‘devotees’ (I still have strong misgivings for the actual convictions of the attendees hence the quotation marks) were composed of elders and young ones under the searing afternoon heat. I contented myself with a brief view of the main stage. At that time marching bands were playing and a few minutes later a program of some sort started.

Groups, families were already pitching makeshift tents and some were laying silver-colored cloths (or were they plastics? I wonder) for rest. Integrated with the feast of course is business and so carnival rides were set up on one side of the grounds facing the Quirino Grandstand and on the opposite side of the grounds were stalls for toys and food. Kelangan din naman sigurong maglibang ng mga tao habang hinihintay ang prusisyon. 

* replicas of the Poong Nazareno

In the end, as I walk back for home I thought of the possible motivations or perhaps societal factors which could have transformed this procession from a religious activity confined previously to the rich ones to this obviously mass-based devotion. Perhaps people tend to ride on what is hip or famous? Or perhaps religion, Catholicism in particular, has the tendency to be become more secularized in our times? Or maybe we are seeing just a transient period in the wide concept (or should I say history) of religious devotion in the Philippines? Questions abound indeed. 
 * carnival rides for the kids

* toys for sale

But one thing is crystal clear: that we are not seeing yet any signs of waning for this popular devotion and affinity to the Mahal na Poong Nazareno.